LFF: Tells us about your first time performing burlesque on stage. What led you to that point? Were you nervous? How did you feel after? Do you have advice for anyone just starting out?
Jackie Nova: It was back in 2014 that I first started daydreaming a lot about burlesque. While traveling on the train to and from my day job, my mind would wander while I listened to music, and the images were always of me doing some kind of fabulous dance in a spotlight, sexy and funny and full of energy. It was a time when I wasn’t performing as much as I wanted to be, and I was also going through a breakup. I did a little research, saw a listing for an Intro to BQ class at the New York School of Burlesque, and enrolled.
After that class, I put together my first true ‘act’ and tried it at a friend’s open-mic night. I recorded it, showed it to a few friends, and a few weeks later one of those friends contacted me with info he’d seen about a new all-male boylesque troupe that was forming. I tried out for Bad Apple Boylesque and became one of their inaugural members, and what followed was a year of lighting creative fires under my own ass, with great feedback and joy and artistic community-building as fruits of the labor and love.
Those first times performing– in the Intro to BQ class, at my friend’s open mic, and then at the Stonewall Inn at Bad Apple’s first show– were magical, because they were the seeds of something new. At Stonewall in particular, it was like something in me was slowly and boldly opening, and I was tapping into everything that I new to bring this “sexual comedy” to the stage.
I was nervous because I wanted it all to go perfectly, and the great thing about doing burlesque is that (for me at least) it has NEVER gone perfectly, and I have to be at peace with that, grateful for whatever is happening, excelling, or getting comically screwed up in the live performance. It may sound cliche, but it is true that after stripping down in front of people, I did feel like I could do almost anything else in front of an audience thereafter. I’m less apologetic about my body, and public nudity feels strangely comforting.
My advice to anyone starting out is to daydream a bit to music that you love, and ideas for numbers may start to evolve. Also, having a team of people who love and support you are unbeatable tools to making it all happen (I’d be nothing without my exceptional costume designer, a skill I myself neither have nor have any desire to master, lol).
And maybe also I’d say to try and put into words WHY you want to do burlesque. It can be super selfish (I think that’s a thing we all should be from time to time) and about feeling every inch of your own skin; it can be an act of communal love and worship akin to church; it can be revolutionary and flipping the bird to the puritanical roots of our societal norms; it can be just to make people laugh; it can be all of those things in a single act. Whatever it is, if you’re honest about it, it’s gonna be a frickin’ great show.
LFF: Wow, that’s great! Thank you so much. And do you have any upcoming gigs?
That’s THIS FRIDAY peeps! Go see him! Buy Tickets.
And be sure to come back next week when we talk to the newest member of OUR team: Soleil!
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